(In addition to being Columbia’s family photographer of choice, Rhiannon Trask is working her way through the American Dream – quitting her job as Vice President of a bank to follow her entrepreneurial dreams. Smart, funny, and wickedly awesome, we’re happy she’s joining The Daily Blur as a Contributing Editor…)
“Fake it until you make it.”
I had never heard that phrase until I watched an episode of the reality TV show where people were auditioning for a job with Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia.
One of the cocky young candidates, who was about my same age at the time, used this phrase to Martha’s face and promptly got shot down and eliminated by the queen of hospitality herself.
I should probably explain here that I’m a HUGE Martha Stewart fan and love pretty much everything she puts her magic hands on (except for the whole SEC/prison incident, of course).
But I strongly disagreed with Martha on this one.
Faking it takes a LOT of work.
Faking it means accepting harder jobs with a smile, even when you have no idea where to start. Faking it means a lot of hustling, research, and late nights. Frankly, there’s also a lot of trial and error. But if you put in the work and fake it right, you’ll get to the other side of the spectrum pretty quickly.
And the more I grow up, the more I see how pretty much everyone is faking it until they make it.
You see, at the time I heard this phrase, I had just graduated college with a shiny new degree in Finance & Banking, which somehow qualified me to work at a premier St. Louis accounting firm doing taxes and auditing work.
With one week of training.
Sure, someone was reviewing my work, but I never got any feedback, so I just plugged away, researching as I went…and evidently, made the higher-ups very happy, according to my annual review.
Fake it until you make it.
A few years later, I found myself managing a bank location, along with eight employees. Did I know anything about managing eight employees?
But I knew how I liked to be managed and how people like to be treated. So I went with that. And I read every management and customer service book I could get my hands on.
Fake it until you make it.
Same story when I landed my marketing job…and once I learned the ropes, I could spot the marketing fakers a mile away. Most had more “experience” than I did. And, boy, a bunch of marketing people out there are faking it, let me tell you.
A couple of years ago, I found myself at a career crossroads. I was faced with the decision to switch employers, doing essentially the same job with a different boss, company, and phone greeting to remember, OR I could take a leap of faith and try to run my own business full-time and bring in enough income so that my family could still live comfortably.
It was a scary decision, to be sure.
But I went with the leap of faith option and decided to fake it until I made it in the photography business.
Although I had the camera skills, I didn’t have experience running a business.
And I never, ever, ever dreamed of being a business owner. Ever.
In fact, my life-long dream consisted of being a well-paid employee with a pretty corner office, benefits, paid vacation and sick days.
Here’s the funny part: I ended up achieving all that. But I was tired of bosses who didn’t know what they were doing, corporate bureaucracy, and a whole lot of disingenuous people in my industry, so I bailed.
I opened my business.
And I faked my way through business policies, contracts, website design, client care, sales and marketing, confidence in my abilities, and lots of other stuff until I figured it out.
My number one priority during this whole transition was to make my clients happy. Being confident in myself and my skills – even when I was winging it – gave them confidence in me, which resulted in better, more relaxed photos and, ultimately, happy clients.
And I’m proud to report that it worked.
I’m here to tell you that it’s okay if you fake it until you make it, as long as you’re willing to do the work to get there. It’s not just a phrase used by over-confident young professionals … it’s a survival skill for the business world.